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(LEAD) N.K., U.S. find common ground, agree to cooperate to narrow difference: KCNA

All Headlines 11:24 December 11, 2009

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES with quotes from KCNA's English report, details, background throughout)
By Tony Chang

SEOUL, Dec. 11 (Yonhap) -- North Korea said Friday it reached common ground with the U.S. on the need to resume stalled six-party nuclear talks and agreed to cooperate to narrow differences during a high-level meeting with Washington's special envoy.

Stephen Bosworth, U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, finished a three-day trip to Pyongyang on Thursday without obtaining the North's commitment to return to the multilateral talks on its denuclearization.

An unidentified spokesman with North Korea's foreign ministry said in an interview with the North's Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) that both sides held practical and "frank discussions," and took the opportunity to establish a "mutual understanding," the KCNA reported.

The spokesman said that Bosworth had talks with the foreign ministry's vice minister for U.S. affairs and its first vice minister.

The meeting produced a "a series of common understanding on the need to resume the six-party talks," the report said. The multilateral forum, involving the United States, Russia, China, Japan and the two Koreas, has been deadlocked over international sanctions imposed on North Korea after its nuclear and missile tests.

"Both sides had a long, exhaustive and candid discussion on wide-ranging issues, including the conclusion of a peace agreement, the normalization of the bilateral relations, economic and energy assistance, and the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula," the spokesman said.

The KCNA also quoted the spokesman as saying that both sides agreed on the importance of implementing the 2005 joint statement, which calls for the North's nuclear dismantlement in return for the provision of massive economic aid, normalization of ties between the North and the U.S. and Japan, and the establishment of a peace regime to replace the armistice signed at the end of Korean War in 1953.

North Korea and the U.S. agreed to "continue to cooperate with each other in the future to narrow down the remaining differences," the spokesman said.

Bosworth's trip to Pyongyang had raised hopes for a breakthrough in the stalemate in the international process to denuclearize North Korea, but the envoy stressed to reporters in Seoul on Thursday that he held "exploratory talks, not negotiations," in Pyongyang.


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